Monthly Archives: May 2017

Corbyn has betrayed Labour’s noble history of liberal internationalism

A noble tradition of liberal internationalism has pumped blood to the heart of the Labour Party since its foundation. It is an essential part of the Labour story.

As a biographer of Clement Attlee, I can testify to that skein running through Labour history like an arterial vein. It was the British Labour Party that was most enthused by Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points of January 1918, which aimed to put progressive, democratic and ethical aims at the heart of international affairs. At its pinnacle, socialist internationalism even went so far to envisage a “world state” that would eradicate war and want.

Some reading…

The carousel below provides links to Amazon of books that might be of interest. The bookshelf will be updated and change from time to time. To view the selection you will need to have Flash installed on your browser.







The comment made this past week on social media by a prominent Sinn Fein Councillor Ciaran Beattie, subsequently removed, where he accused People Before Profit MLA and Westminster candidate Gerry Carroll of being ‘a Brit’, isn’t anything new.

Blair, Blair…






Two things stand out from Tony Blair’s comments around his visit to the European People’s Party meeting in Dublin last weekend. Both are puzzling.

First, Blair has suggested in response to the possibility of a “hard Irish border”, by which he should surely be honest in saying a hard EU border, that:

If the UK and the Republic were able to agree a way forward on the border, then we would have the best chance of limiting the damage. It is in the interests of us all, including our European partners, for this to happen.

The issue here is that now Article 50 has been triggered how exactly does Mr Blair think the Republic of Ireland can do this outside the EU negotiating team. Maybe he had a chat with Mr Barnier, who also attended the EPP meeting, and agreed this possibility?

Abstractions of reality





We are becoming used to claims that the UK might have to pay a very hefty bill in order to leave the EU.

In contrast, one and a half years ago a consultancy report (K Hubner and KLC Consulting August 2015, “Modelling Irish Unification”) claimed that Irish unity could be something of a money-making exercise – one consequence of unity would be that incomes would rise in both Irish economies in the 5-10 years after unification.

Hubner’s were conditional forecasts – KLC made certain assumptions and then forecast how the economy might respond. As the report itself concedes, “The models are abstractions of reality, embodying many assumptions”.

The sensible thing to do, therefore, is review KLC’s assumptions. Four in particular are problematic:

Keep your head on





In his excellent study of Ideology and the Irish Question, Paul Bew quoted a Ballymoney Free Press editorial of May 1912 at the height of the Irish Home Rule crisis. ‘The statement of Unionist Ulster’, it announced, ‘is that it merely wants to be let alone’. Unfortunately, ‘since Satan entered the Garden of Eden good people will not be let alone’. Unionists want to be ‘let alone’: unfortunately ‘good people will not be let alone.’

We are again at one of those moments which echoes that Ballymoney Free Press editorial. What has changed today is the sense of urgency and opportunity. Republicans are determined not to let Unionists alone on the matter of Irish unity.